This past weekend, I competed in the AZBJJF’s Copa Bella Tournament, the organization’s only all female event. This was my first time entering this tournament and my first time moving down a weight class. I wanted to attempt to drop a weight class was to get out of the “it’s just jiu jitsu” mentality that I seemed to have developed. It was flippant and very stupid and makes it seems like competing in jiu jitsu is not as serious as competing in stand-up or MMA. Which to an extent, is true because no one is punching you in the face during a jiu jitsu match but shouldn’t preparation be treated in a similar way? I think some of these feelings stem from the fact that I do train at an MMA gymn and there are some people who don’t take it as seriously because it involves less risk but it takes just as much work and sacrifice to get good at. Luckily this attitude isn’t super prevalent and I love my coach, gym, and teammates. My sister has also commented on what she sees as a lack of seriousness on my approach to competing and has even said, “I don’t know why you don’t train for your tournaments they we do for a fight.” She fights muay thai, is very good, and one of those most disciplined people I know and I guess I also wanted to prove to her that I could do it.
In the past, I’ve competed at middle weight (141.5 – 152.5) and end up being on the lighter side of the class and tend to fatigue early in my matches. I’d thought about moving down to lightweight before but hadn’t been able to devote the time to losing the weight in a smart way. My original plan for this year was to try to sign up for Pans and eventually get myself ready for a muay thai fight. Because of this I started taking more muay thai classes and running on the weekends whenever I had the time. The increase in cardio pushed my weight down to around 143 but I still had to drop to about 137 to make up for the gi since weigh ins are same day with the gi to discourage extreme weight cutting. Dropping those last 7 pounds seemed easy enough. Or so I thought. Last Monday I got to 139 and my body seemed like it had decided we were done and it wasn’t going to lose anymore weight. I spent most of the week stressing over the thought of not making weight and getting disqualified and dreaming about the food I was going to eat afterwards. I was also stressed out because my coach wouldn’t be able to be there but I was lucky enough that one of the upper belts was able to coach me since his fiance was also competing, just out of a different academy.
The night before I was able to get my weight were it needed to be by taking a bath. The day off, I ate breakfast and sipped on water. Then took another bath to sweat some more and make sure I was able to maintain. The worst part about this was that I wasn’t set to compete until 5. Waiting was miserable. I was super thirsty and my coach had instructed me to just take sips of water to wet my mouth. Every time I heard this, I’d visualize myself as Munch’s “The Scream.” As always, waiting for my bracket to start is the worst part of the competition. This one had a longer wait than normal. I didn’t weigh in until 4:30 and my match was at 4:45. The match itself was frustrating. I lost via arm bar but there were some good things to come out of it. I made it past the 2.5 minute mark in which I usually get gassed and it wasn’t an immediate tap. The last time I faced this opponent was the second match of my first tournament, ever. She pulled guard, straight into a triangle. This time, I was able to stop the guard pull and manage to stay on top until I started to lose my balance and tried to ankle lock her. That was very dumb of me because I don’t play legs at all and I primarily use it as a threat to create a scramble. I ended up getting caught in side control and then mount and then the arm bar. Very basic positions that I seem to get caught in every single match that I lose. So I need to continue to work on those. Losing this match was so frustrating it made me angry and I ended up crying afterwards. I felt that this was the best that I had prepared for a tournament and to only get one match stung to end. It also felt like all that work and sacrifice was for naught. But that isn’t true at all.
I did learn a lot. I learned that I do have the discipline to diet and run in order to move down a weight class, I didn’t get caught in the same guard pull, and I’m learning to manage my competition nerves. Now I just need to continue to work on those big areas that make up me weak points: getting caught on bottom. I’ll have another chance tomorrow. I signed up for another tournament. I’ll be competing in no gi for this one and luckily weigh ins are tonight. I’m so excited to be done with dieting for now and to go back to eating like a normal person!